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     Home > Culture and Society  >  2014-01-28 15:17:38
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Churches under attack in South Sudan crisis

South Sudan, 28 January 2014: Church premises have been attacked and priests have been run out of their posts in the South Sudanese diocese of Malakal, situated in an area of the country hit by the weeks-long crisis.

Fr. Ferdinand Lugonzo, secretary general of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa spoke with Vatican Radio about the recent events. He said a team of bishops visited South Sudan and returned with disheartening news last week. The apostolic administrator of the diocese of Malakal was run out of his residence, which was subsequently looted.

As well, a number of priests in the diocese were attacked and run out of their posts. The safety of the bishop-emeritus is also a concern. As of 24 January, their whereabouts were still unknown. Fr. Lugonzo said they were waiting for some state of calm in the region to ask international forces to locate the bishop.

As well, churches that had been serving as places of refuge for victims of the crisis were not safe, reported Fr. Lugonzo.

“The rebels are now attacking church premises where some of the victims are running to, and even the church personnel themselves are not safe,” he said.

In issuing a statement on the current crisis in South Sudan, the association of East African episcopal conferences called on the South Sudanese government to offer protection of church premises and personnel.

In their 24 January statement, the bishops called for: the cessation of hostilities; an assurance that the corridors for humanitarian access remain open; an expansion of the table of negotiations towards peace; a softening of politicians’ positions in the interest of saving lives; international support for the humanitarian work of Caritas Internationalis amid the crisis; and prayers for peace.

They also noted that the Church has been absent from the peace negotiations to date. The Church was active in the healing and reconciliation process in the country prior to the crisis, explained Fr. Lugonzo, and would have a role to play in accompanying the nation towards peace.Source: VR Eng


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